Previously, we shared our picks for 20 more songs you should add to your Pride playlist. Now, we're keeping the Pride spirit alive with a list of underrated LGBTQ+ artists you need to check out this year.
Some of these musicians have been around the music scene for a while, and we feel they still don't get the recognition they deserve. Others are very new, attaining massive amounts of success in a short period of time. Whatever the case, you are bound to find a new favorite musician in this pool of talented people. Here are our recommendations!
1. Rina Sawayama
We couldn't make this list without giving a proper nod to Rina Sawayama, who's taken the world by storm and changed the pop game with her debut studio album SAWAYAMA. Her songs are both absurd and intimate with catchy hooks and boundary-pushing production value. Basically, they'll be stuck in your head for days.
After facing years of little success and casual racism in the industry, Sawayama finally found a breakthrough after showing her demo of "STFU!" to Jamie Oborne of Dirty Hit. Since then, she's gained the respect of several fellow pop musicians - including Sir Elton John, who helped her with a new version of "Chosen Family" in April.
Rina is openly pansexual, and her songs touch upon several LGBTQ+ themes - including finding solace in queer friendships, loving anyone you want to love, and discovering strength in your own uniqueness. You'll hear a lot of her music during Pride this year.
STANDOUT TRACKS: "XS," "LUCID," "Comme Des Garçons (Like The Boys)," "Chosen Family"
2. Isaac Dunbar
Isaac Dunbar may only be 18, but his songs are already making waves across the electric, pop, and alternative rock scenes. A Massachusetts native who taught himself music production through YouTube tutorials, Isaac signed with RCA Records in 2019 and already has three albums to his name.
It's unique-yet-energetic songs like "makeup drawer" and "fan behavior" that draw fans into Isaac's electronic world. He's been compared to contemporary artists like Conan Gray, and is considered a male Billie Eilish of sorts. It's Dunbar's mix of glam, edge, and authenticity in his tracks that make him such a young icon.
STANDOUT TRACKS: "makeup drawer," "fan behavior," "suicide," "onion boy"
3. girl in red
Norwegian musician Marie Ulven, aka girl in red, has become something of a patron saint for young lesbians going through their coming of age. After all, the famous TikTok phrase "do you listen to girl in red?" is now synonymous with "are you attracted to girls?"
Ulven herself is a proud lesbian, and is unafraid to explore her sexuality through the candid lyrics in her songs. Similar to Taylor Swift tunes, listening to girl in red's music is like flipping through the pages of a diary. Her art is deeply personal, but can also be funny, angsty, dark, romantic, and hopeful.
Ulven's career is only going up. After releasing her debut album if i could make it go away this year, she recently announced a North American tour scheduled for 2022.
STANDOUT TRACKS: "we fell in love in october," "i wanna be your girlfriend," "girls," "summer depression"
Best known as a finalist on the first season of singing competition The Four, VINCINT is an openly gay Philadelphia artist whose soaring vocals have garnered him massive critical acclaim. He was hailed by Paper as "one of the greatest vocalists of our generation" and Billboard called him "a legend in the making."
His incredible vocals range from belts to soft falsettos. Besides his singing chops, VINCINT's tunes are known for their radiance, funk, and pop beats. His songs are also known for their focus on self-love. His recent hit "Be Me" was even selected as the anthem for the fifth season of Queer Eye.
STANDOUT TRACKS: "Higher," "Be Me," "Kill My Heart," "Someday"
If you're looking for a pink-haired feminist rage machine who could be the next pop incarnation of Avril Lavigne, look no further than GIRLI. The English singer-songwriter and rapper doesn't care about your opinions - and that's what makes her music so addictive.
Her lyrics are feisty and fresh, making them relatable for anyone who knows what it's like to be judged. The pansexual musician has one studio album, Odd One Out, and a new EP Ex Talk she just released this year.
STANDOUT TRACKS: "Hot Mess," "Not That Girl," "Girl I Met On The Internet"
6. Arlo Parks
Arlo Parks recently made news at the 2021 Brit Awards with her Breakthrough Artist win, as well as her nominations for British Female Solo Artist and British Album. She's come a long way since uploading song demos to BBC Music Introducing.
Her 2020 album Collapsed in Sunbeams has earned copious amounts of critical acclaim. Dua Lipa, who beat her out for the two Brit Awards mentioned above, even performed a cover of her song "Eugene" on BBC Radio 1.
So what is it that makes Arlo Parks' music so good? Undoubtedly, it's her honesty about sexuality and mental health struggles. Because of her background in poetry, Parks' song lyrics are some of the best written in the game. Her songs are smoother than butter, and her music takes inspiration from acts like Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens, Frank Ocean, and Solange.
STANDOUT TRACKS: "Eugene," "Cola," "Hope," "Caroline"
7. King Princess
King Princess is a queen of the industry right now. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Mikaela Mullaney Straus pranced into the spotlight after her 2018 single "1950" received both commercial and critical success. Since then, she's played at several music festivals, released her debut album Cheap Queen in 2019, and has even received praise from the likes of Harry Styles and Halsey.
Openly gay and genderqueer, King Princess is unafraid to adorn the lyrics of her songs with feminist messages and lesbian love. Besides her vocals, you'll find euphoria in her atmospheric synths. Her music takes inspiration from Nick Cave, Beyonce, Dolly Parton, and Perfume Genius.
STANDOUT TRACKS: "1950," "Talia," "House Burn Down," "Upper West Side"
It's a crime serpentwithfeet hasn't received more recognition in the industry since he released his debut album soil back in 2018. After all, serpentwithfeet (aka Josiah Wise) doesn't just make music...he makes theatrical experiences.
Raised by religious parents in Baltimore, serpent found his love affair with theatre, glamor, gospel, and the ornate through the Black church. The lyrics and themes present within his music are soulful, emotional, and incredibly raw. It's astounding how serpent can take a hopeless topic - such as an unrequited affair in "four ethers" - and infuse it with forgiveness and pure love in his music.
His newest album DEACON explores the magic of Black gay love and the tenderness present in the best companionships, whether they be platonic or not. Check out his work. Not only will you fall in love with his music's experimental production, but also his vocals. He's a master at volume control, and his rapid vibrato is to die for.
STANDOUT TRACKS: "four ethers," "Fellowship," "bless ur heart," "messy"
9. Remi Wolf
Remi Wolf has breezed onto the music scene like a breath of fresh air. After finishing her studies at the University of Southern California's music school, Wolf released her debut EP You're a Dog! It chronicles the rocky relationships of her life until now, and talks about queer casual sex and messy love.
She now has an album called We Love Dogs!, and while the canine titles between her projects may be similar, the funky, psychedelic tracks are anything but repetitive. Wolf's had an uptick of success lately due to her hit song "Photo ID," which she recently re-made with Dominic Fike.
STANDOUT TRACKS: "Photo ID," "OK," "Disco Man"
This 21-year-old non-binary rising star has just turned heads with their recent induction into Phoebe Bridgers' new record label. Besides being a TikTok star and a bedroom pop artist for the ages, Claud Mintz is a relatable musician whose romantic, melancholy, and deeply personal music touches on the rollercoaster ride of young love.
Their latest album Super Monster was released just this year. Every tune will infuse you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. With sugary sweet hits like "Wish You Were Gay" and "Soft Spot," it's only a matter of time before Claud finds a more mainstream audience.
STANDOUT TRACKS: "Wish You Were Gay," "Soft Spot," "If I Were You"
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